Welcome to Mental Goalies! A blog about mental goalkeeping for field hockey and other sports.

Your comments are wanted! Please let me know what you think or feel about this blog, it's contents or the e-book.
This e-book has "distractions" as a central theme. It will help you in better understanding how distractions reach you, lead you off the task at hand. And what's more important tools and tips are provided to shut out distractions so we goalies can stop as many balls as possible!

Your input will enable me to refine and tweak the contents [or take the site off-line ;-)].
Please do take a little time and let me know. On every page you can enter a comment or you can choose to click "contact" on the right hand side. Thnx in advance for your time and interest!

The new season

Always an interesting timeslot…..the beginning of the season.

It enables the trainer to get a fair insight into the level of automation that applies to the goalies he works with.

Next to that insight, most of times goalies and trainers are confronted with a fallback of some size in condition both physically and mentally.

And these two cross at some point. On this topic I’d like to elaborate a little in this blog-entry.

After holidays most goalies see themselves set back; not surprisingly if you spend less time during summer on your sport!
So I guess it’s fair to state that a season’s start comes with less tolerance towards exercise. I don’t mean this in a physical way, but from a mental perspective. Your body wasn’t challenged and neither was your brain. As a result you’ll see many goaltenders give in more easily than they used to do before last season ended.

This mere fact will hinder a fast improvement upto the former skill level. What can goalies do to overcome this lagging holiday effect?
Using visualization how you ended last season would be a great cure! Re-experience what you we’re able to some months ago. Dive into that brain-iPod and let your mind and body feel what it was like. Especially how good it felt to train and learn using perseverance, endurance and awareness.
By re-living the positives that come with those prolonged efforts, you will be back on the old track in no time ;P.

By the way: beginning of season is a natural point in time to set goals. Goals that you write down, goals that you can re-read, goals that you can check. And there’s almost nothing that feels as good as a goal reached! Good goalkeeping!!

Pressurized by loved-ones

This year I turned 48 and still loved-ones watching a game can (and sometimes will) distract me (especially my dad, by the way…).
This has been the case for as long as I can remember…..

And just watching a game on any saturday, I can find many goalies with a parent behind or close to the goal*.
Or when the age range goes up, girlfriends or girlfriends-to-be will stand by the pitch.
And every now and then the goalies eyes will turn to the loved-one nearby.

Maybe it’s overdone to state that we, goalies, might feel pressure when loved-ones are watching us.
Since that’s exactly what occurs: we feel watched upon. And who wants to lose face in presence of a/the loved-one??

Goalies want to excell once these special people are there for us. We hope that we can show all of our potential maybe even that spectacular athletic save!

Obviously we don’t enjoy showing our hesitation in a 1-on-1 situation or the miscalculation that comes with a badly timed sliding……And bad goals are the absolute worst… our minds! We are eager to get their approval, praise and compliments. And we don’t want them to feel embarrassed.

This is where we have to understand that there are two sorts of loved-ones attending our games:

  • ones that are there to support us and where we pressurize ourselves for reasons mentioned above (let’s call these passives)
  • ones that are there to support us, where we pressurize ourselves AND feedback is provided by the attendee…… (obviously these are the active ones)

Dealing with passives is relatively easy: since they are passive in their behaviour we can more or less ignore them for the duration of preparation, warming up & game…just forget that they are there.

On the other hand, the actives are much harder to handle! Even when they only provide us with constructive feedback and input, that will impact on our degree of concentration and commitment to the game.
Just imagine that they would also comment our performance in less positive words and sentences [some even provide us with brilliant observation along the line of ‘you could have stopped that one!’].
When you’re my age, you could tell them at a given time that their presence is valued; the format they bring to the pitch is not valued though.
That might work for an adult, but loads of goalie-kids wouldn’t dare to tell that to their loved-ones [now let’s hope these actives read this blog-entry ;-)].

And what makes it even worse is that actives might engage in an evaluation afterwards. As you might know, I’ve nothing against evaluations -I’m all for it- BUT they should comprise of successes & improvements [most of times it’s only the improvements we will get during the ‘active evaluation’].

Or put otherwise: when loved-ones come to support us, let them tend to be passives!!

Does this mean that passives can not pressurize us goalies? Not at all; this might happen before the game e.g. by expressing something we cannot by ourselves. Things like: go get the points, have a shout-out, try not to allow a bad goal, etc.
Or after the game: when deception is expressed etc.

So: when you are a loved-one coming to the game to support your goalie: provide us with balanced input and respect. Believe us: we never intend to disappoint you. So be sure: if something happens that makes you feel disappointed we might experience a multilid version of that emotion.

And to a loved-one of the parent-species I’d suggest that you enjoy the game alongside the pitch. Let us hear your compliments and appreciation on what we did well. There will be room to brainstorm on what can be improved as well.

Happy goaltending with your loved ones present!

What about sloppy practice from the trainer’s perspective

You might think “sloppy (in) practice… what?”

As a trainer my goal is to use practice to offer an opportunity for learning: so I make sure that a goalkeeper get’s presented skills & techniques at a level that fit’s his needs. By doing so, I can help him to take steps in his development.

Consequently one of my aims is to ‘automate’ the desired behaviour, given the assumption that if you do it automated, chances are that you will do exactly so when pressurized, tired, stressed, etc.
Namely, the reverse could also be true: if a goalkeeper shows a sloppy approach, chances are that this undesired behaviour surfaces during stressy situations.

And isn’t it a often heard phrase during practices: “once in a game, I’m well prepped, sharp as a razor and that won’t happen than” ??

Goalkeepers with a sloppy tendency (and don’t we suffer from it, in a form, light or heavy, at any point in time?), I want you to consider the following:  “what are my odds to show the most desired behaviour in a game, when I’m not able to do so in practice?”

I hope you’ll come up with the following answer: “I do myself a favour when I’m assured during practice that I can do the right thing!!”
Your trainers will be pleasantly surprised by the change in approach, bet on it!!

Good goalkeeping (also in practice 😉 ),

Greetz Francesco

Goalie feeling lonely…

Feeling lonely can be detrimental to the goalie’s performance…..

In what way could he feel lonely?

  • as a loner, since he’s the only one holding a position within the group. A position that is not so well understood by some players and coaches. A position that is not so much valued by some players and coaches. There are many examples to these statements but one I like in particular: I bet they hardly are aware that in a practice where the player practice on a skill and end with a shot on goal, the goalie has to deal with 12 to 15 players practicing 5 times each totalling up to roughly 60 actions in the same time frame as they do 5 actions each………….
  • When instructions are given by the trainer during practice, hardly ever the goalie is present. Partly because the goalie decides that there’s no value to come over to the group, partly because the goalie’s presence is not valued by the group.
    I’d say this reflects ‘bad practice’: being a part of the team, goalies should be present at group-instructions. The players and coach can learn from his observations as well!
  • In practice it’s often observed that offensive actions are being practiced, with no/low defensive activity. This doesn’t represent a game-like situation to player nor goalie. You could even discuss whether settings like these engrain the desired behaviour that the team as a whole is dedicated to prevent scoring!
  • In games, a goalie can feel very lonely when his team doesn’t show
    • willingness to do their jobs in defensive scenarios, especially when players ‘refuse’ to tackle back (for whatever reason)!!
    • improvement in the quality of their defensive actions, e.g. passing through the centre after an interception in stead of making the game
    • willingness to respond to the goalie’s instructions/directions
  • When a goal is made by our team: the team, most of the times, will celebrate the moment of success. Regularly limited to a small group of forwards. Seldomly the goalie will get involved.
  • When we are being scored upon at best players will give a constructive remark and at least…..we all know what can occur
    Great instructions and observations, like a loud yell from the sideline “you could have stopped that one” will definitely help to improve performance.
  • After the last whistle has sounded, it’s not exactly a given fact that all wil gather at the goalie and leave/celebrate together.

And in fieldhockey it is not uncommon that the majority of the players are already off the field (and in the clubhouse?) when a single soul (hardly ever accompanied by another soul) is still ‘peeling off’ his gear……

So: there are many ways that goalies can feel lonely. There’s a part where we, as goalies, hold responsibility to hook up with the team to show that we want to be part of it AND there’s a part the we need to be included by others.

And most definitely our preformance can be lowered or boosted by the level that we experience the outcome to be a team-effort or not!!

Good goalkeeping again.

Last entry….in 2011 on: bad goals


I feel it’s only fair to start this entry with an apology from my side. Sorry for the delay with new blogpostings.

It has been busy, I would even say very busy, these last months. Not only in a professional sense as specialist in niche-marketing & niche-sales, also in a personal sense as a lot ado at home and in a sporting sense with the roll out of new sessions and initiatives.

During the last quarter I got involved in 2 great goalie initiatives:

  • the RHKS from Pirmin Blaak and Jan Lelieveldt
  • the Xmas goaliecamp from Tim Knudsen

The three of them acknowledge the value of mental aspects to become a better goalie or said differently: things between your ear can will influence the performance between the posts.

What struck me during this period was a theme that popped up over and over again: We are talking about an (early) (bad) goal.
What I mean by that is: an early goal, a bad goal or even (better forbid) an early bad goal.

The occurance of bad a/o early goals does something to the goalies mind……like

  • lose confidence
  • introduce doubt
  • negative self-speak
  • fear of failure
  • feeling of being judged upon negatively
  • remarks from teammates
  • brilliant tips on how to prevent this next time…….

Now I could fill tonnes of blogspace on all this possible outings , and there are many more, but in the end it comes down to 1 thing and one thing only: GET OVER IT! You can’t change a d*****d thing about it anymore & you want to perform at your best in the remainder.

More easily typed than done you might think. To some extent that might be true, but it’s not that complicated.
There are some tips you can enroll strictly to make it happen:

  • Evaluations are great: should be done, good stuff to learn from.
    Evaluations are in place: ONCE THE GAME IS OVER!!
  • Strong emotions tend to take a goalie out of the flow
    KEEP IT FACTUAL: we were scored upon; that can happen (for now; all is allowed at evaluations)
  • NEGATIVE self-speak needs to be shut down (this applies to ALL SITUATIONS and especially upon bad goals)
    Get back to being concentrated on the here & now
  • setting UNREALISTIC goals, since these are killing for all goalies
    unrealistic as in: a goal that’s outside the goalies full control (not being scored upon is a bad goal in that sense; there are situations that we can do everything to the best of our abilities and still not being able to prevent a player or team from scoring!!)

What it comes down to: RESET yourself. as if you were starting the game. Give your head a temporary option to get back to the (powerful) feeling you had on entering the game. It’s back to “0 – 0” and regain your power and mindset from that starting point.
Funny? Silly? Childish? Or just a workable alternative to all of the ‘standard’ events, as mentioned above??

One last note on realistic goalsetting:
I do promise that my entries for 2012 will come more frequently: I’m aiming for 10 entries on regular basis.Is that the subject for this note: me apologizing?
Nope. Although there’s something to take out of my promise.
By defining a goal, the likeliness that you could reach it rises…
By making it explicite (as in: writing it down), it gets out of your head and can be looked upon & read
By sharing (as in: letting others know what your target is), you commit yourself to a bigger extent
So: setting a goal is a good thing. Make it realistic but challenging. Have the gut to write it down and spread your news! Chances are that you might meet your goal without particular notice, but that’s not a rule of thumb! It might still be necessary to give the process a good deal of your attention.

Good netminding over the holidays!